I JUST WANT TO PREFACE THIS BY SAYING I’m sorry I didn’t get a chance to write a review for Equestria Girls Friendship Games. I’ll right that wrong at a future date, because I had some things to say about it. But for now, I’m taking a look at the latest entry into what I’m glad has become an annual event, a new chapter in the Equestria Girls films.
One of the reasons I regret not reviewing Friendship Games is that this is the first movie that doesn’t feature Princess Twilight Sparkle from Canterlot and this movie centers around the Twilight that just moved to…uh…hang on, I need to look up something…
Okay, I just had to confirm that the names of the locations haven’t changed. So this universe’s Twilight moves to Canterlot during the Friendship Games and it’s there where she becomes overtaken by Midnight Sparkle, her alter ego before being reeled back in. That’s important, as it sets up what I felt was the stronger plot in Legend of Everfree. Twilight’s inner struggle of coping with this seemingly uncontrollable force from within (as this was her introduction to magic) was a little more compelling to me than anything Gloriosa Daisy’s plight. A little more on that later. The purpose of this movie was to get a better perspective and a sense of gravity on this universe’s Twilight with Midnight Sparkle as a catharsis. It’s not too different from season 1 of Friendship is Magic, watching as she learns more about friendship, culminating to her becoming the Princess of it (by the way, something about that title always amused me. It’s like declaring yourself vice chancellor of ambivalence).
STORY: I think plot wise, Legend of Everfree was probably overall the weakest since the first Equestria Girls film. Not that it was lacking effort, but the premise of the camp being in danger as a result of Filthy Rich owning leverage over Gloriosa and Timber makes it pretty predictable.
In fact, Filthy was barely used as a red herring antagonist, so you’re left deciding, “who’s going to turn rogue and enslave the camp?” After the campfire story, it tries to paint Timber, as he happens to know so much about the legend of Gaia Everfree, combined with his skulking around in later portions, but there’s no way you can buy it for a single second. Even if you can suspend your disbelief for a second and try to imagine his crush on Twilight is a ruse, Gloria acts suspicious from the FIRST SECOND SHE’S ON THE SCREEN. I have a firm belief that anyone as passionate about their job as she is becomes highly suspect in my book. Besides, there’s absolutely nothing threatening about Timber, that even if he was the villain, I couldn’t take him all that seriously, he’s just too genuinely friendly. He looks like a folk rock singer. And thirdly, all of the villains of the Equestria Girls movies thus far have been female. Not reading too much into that, it’s just the status quo until further notice.
There’s also the obtuse albatross as to why magical powers have begun effecting the leads to such a degree, but that appears to be a cliffhanger for the NEXT movie (oooooh, intrigue).
CHARACTERS: As the ladies are well established by this point, there isn’t too much to say about Rainbow Dash, Applejack, Pinkie, Rarity, and Fluttershy. Nothing about them was distinct to this film to particularly stand out (although Rarity was noticeably more annoying with wanting to use the new dock as a runway. Seriously, that’s just awkward. the idea behind a runway is walk from a curta…no, I’ve already put too much thought into that), so Sunset Shimmer continues to be my favorite character.
Because she’s an original character established in the Equestria Girls films, I’ve watched her grow and develop. She’s more impressive than the human forms of the Mane 6 since she comes off as more than a two dimensional personality who’s seen the peaks and valleys of the mistakes and has learned from them. I think Starlight Glimmer in the TV show boasts that same potential.
As I said earlier, the antagonist, Gloriosa Daisy isn’t a particularly BAD villain, but she’s missing the charisma of the sirens from Rainbow Rocks or the misfit personalities of the Shadowbolts in Friendship Games. Her motives drives her to seek the power to protect the camp, because it meant a lot to her and Timber’s family. She becomes desperate and finds an opportunity with the abundant flow of magic to become the incarnation of Gaia Everfree in order to…enslave the campers? A little bit misguided, if anything, you’d think she’d want to tear down Filthy Rich, but attacking those who attend your camp seems detrimental. Not to mention, her Gaia Everfree persona looks like a Lady Gaga outfit. Not quite as imposing as one would think, especially since the spirit in Timber’s ghost story looked far more terrifying.
Timber Spruce is a charming sort, and what I assume any teenage girl would see in a high school pretty boy. There isn’t much to him, other than being a fake lead to the real villain reveal, but I did like the obvious crush he and Twilight clearly have. Sucks for Flash Sentry, but he’s over it.
I brought up earlier about how male characters aren’t really utilized very much in Equestria Girls (not that there really needs a reason for them to be), and there’s something that can be done with Timber Spruce, but he might be a one-shot character. At least he did provide me with this hilarious moment of picking up an ax during Gloriosa’s attack and vehemently chopping at the wood. I got quite a laugh out of this effort. Points for trying, dude, I admire that moxie!! And just one minor thing regarding the art. It might just be me, but I think these girls have more legit body mass in their legs alone than the rest of their bodies. It will always look funny to me and they continue to walk like marionettes.
OVERALL: Legend of Everfree plays out very much like the previous entries, but aspects of it certainly lack the flair and charm this time around. The strengths include Twilight’s inner struggle with her Midnight alter ego and Sunset Shimmer continuing to be the backbone (and possibly smartest character) of this Equestria Girls spinoff. The new outfits (just in time for the holiday season) look pretty spiffy, but what becomes of their old ones? Have these girls become a legit sentai team now?
Their individual powers are fairly similar in execution to that episode when the ponies got stuck in Spike’s comic book, so it will be interesting to see that element utilized in future EG movies. While still enjoyable for the characters themselves, the musical numbers wear a bit of a step down from Rainbow Rocks and the plot was predictable. One other plus, the outtakes were genuinely amusing.